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The Graphic Truth: Crude Connections

Line charts comparing US to Canada oil sales to China
Paige Fusco

Canada has exported more than 95% of its oil to the US over the last two decades. In recent years, it has sought to diversify its exports away from North American markets.

But Canada faces a major obstacle: It can only sporadically export oil to China – the world’s largest importer of oil – because it lacks a major West Coast loading port. So the only Canadian crude that reaches China has to re-exported by another country.

Meanwhile, the US has massively upped oil exports to China since it lifted its oil embargo on Beijing in 2015. US crude oil shipments to China were the highest in 2020, but 2023 is shaping up to break that record. The US has delivered record volumes of American crude oil to China, even amid rising geopolitical tensions.

So while Washington and Beijing shout at each other, the US oil industry has made $7 billion in 2023 alone. Meanwhile, Canada’s inadequate infrastructure bars it from getting a piece of the action.


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